Politics take all the fun out of the parties

There’s just three days until Election Day, but who’s counting? Oh, yeah — everyone who is yearning for the nightmare to be over.

I don’t know about anyone else, but Tuesday can’t come fast enough. Once we finish this election, maybe all the hysteria will die down.

Check that. The hysteria never dies down, but it will at least be dialed back when we don’t have television commercial breaks filled with every political candidate under the sun touting accomplishments or being vilified. Whether it’s one candidate painting a scary picture of an opponent or political action committees using broad strokes to create an image of one of the political parties, election season has become more terrifying than any haunted house you visited for Halloween.

Republicans are guilty of it. Democrats are guilty of it. Our governor has said numerous times, including at this year’s Shawano County Republican Party’s Lincoln-Reagan dinner in April, that liberals are spreading “hate and fear.” There’s truth to that, but the problem is that I don’t see much love and comfort coming from the GOP in its advertising, either.

What is the cause, you ask? Maybe it’s the party. Make that, parties. Organizations eager to build their base with fawning acolytes who hang on their every word like gospel, all the while not realizing that people prefer to think for themselves instead of being yanked to and fro like a mindless marionette.

Fewer and fewer people cling to one particular party. The most recent Gallup poll in October showed that 28 percent of respondents were members of the Republican Party, 30 percent were Democrats, and 39 percent were independent voters not subscribing to all the ideals of one political party. Looking back at the Gallup polls for the last two decades, anywhere from one-third to almost one-half of the respondents declared they were independent.

That’s why I’m baffled when politicians are urging their parties to energize their fellow brethren. Republicans know they’re not going to sway Democrats, and vice versa. However, once you slice off the right and left, you’ve still got a large mass in the middle that’s looking at both sides, wondering which candidate is the craziest and then voting for the other one, not out of undying support for said opponent but from the hope that he or she will not completely upend their lives.

Instead of worrying about what’s going to appease the base of the party, the parties would be better suited to coming up with compromises that best benefit the whole. Governors, senators, representatives, sheriffs and other public officials are called upon to represent all of the people, not just those who have cast their votes, and clinging only to a single party’s beliefs is an abdication of the responsibilities of the job they stumped for.

The parties have become like selfish children with a “my way or the highway” attitude. Both parties tout their way as the way of salvation and that the other party is the party of darkness. In a way, that’s discrimination of a sort. Saying a Republican should never cross the aisle to work with a Democrat is akin to saying Lutherans and Catholics should not pray together.

We’re trying to be an accepting melting pot here in America, but as long as we continue having Democrats versus Republicans and us versus them on the brain, we will never reach the ideal greatness that politicians espouse these days. We will continue to be a society where the needs of one class with receive greater attention than those of the other classes, and what will that lead to? Another civil war?

I want to see elections where I can choose the best candidate with pride and confidence instead of going into the booth holding my nose. I don’t want a representative just because they’re a conservative or liberal. What I want is someone who will keep in mind that they will represent thousands or even millions of people with their own values and views, and when they make laws and policies, it will be something that reflects those values and not those of Republicans or Democrats.

When you go to the polls Tuesday, vote your conscience. Don’t vote Republican. Don’t vote Democrat. Vote for the best person to represent you, not the party that will continue the nightmares.

Lee Pulaski is the city editor of The Shawano Leader. Readers can contact him at lpulaski@newmedia-wi.com.